BORDERS businesses and organisations were honoured last week at the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards.

The Awards are described as the ultimate benchmark of success in Scotland's countryside, highlighting the enterprise, skill and innovation of those who live and work in rural areas.

Comedian Fred MacAulay took to the stage at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh as compere for the evening, hosting over 400 guests and presenting three awards in each of the 11 open categories – a Highly Commended, Runner Up and overall Winner.

Charley and Andrea Walker, of Barnside Farm near Duns, were the overall winners in the Agriculture category, with the judging panel praising the couple’s work as ‘perhaps the perfect farming enterprise’.

Not-for-profit community organisation Peebles CAN was the runner up in the Education category.

Peebles CAN tackle climate change with a series of projects in and around the town.

The Buccleuch Arms in St Boswells took away a Highly Commended in the Rural Hospitality category.

Billy Hamilton, owner of The Buccleuch Arms, said: "Positive reviews are always important to us but recognition within such highly regarded Awards as these is special.

"We are a rural hotel with strong rural values and excellent relationships with our suppliers, many of whom are also based within Scotland’s stunning countryside.

"To be Highly Commended by our peers with the Scottish Rural Awards helps to make the hard work worthwhile."

Other finalists from the Borders included the Border Union Agricultural Society in the Education category, and Kezie Foods, based near Duns, in the Rural Employer category.

Last week's event is the culmination of a third year of partnership between Scottish Field and the Scottish Countryside Alliance to host the awards, in association with the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

The awards are backed by category sponsors including Aldi, the Bank of Scotland and Subaru UK.

Richard Bath, editor of Scottish Field, commented: "More than ever before, Scotland’s rural communities are displaying a quite remarkable amount of energy, innovation and imagination as they diversify existing businesses and create new and exciting opportunities from scratch.

"As a magazine we are constantly writing about the rural entrepreneurs who are bringing wealth and jobs to the countryside, so it’s exciting for us to be able to honour the men and women who are doing so much to make the economy of rural Scotland a true success story."

Nominations for the 2017 Scottish Rural Awards officially launched at the Scottish Parliament in September 2016, with over 200 entries received before the closing date.

Finalists in each of the open categories, which encompass every aspect of rural life, from agriculture and food production, to conservation, education and tourism, were announced in December.

Those who have made special contributions to the Scottish countryside were honoured with two separate accolades last night - the Rural Hero Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Rural Hero award was collectively presented to the crew of Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance for their vital life-saving work carried out across the country, while the Lifetime Achievement accolade was awarded to Sam Morshead, for his services to racing and to charity.

Jamie Stewart, director of the Scottish Countryside Alliance, added: "Land-based businesses contribute over £2billion to the Scottish economy.

"Despite the multiple challenges they face, they are hugely valuable brand ambassadors for Scotland, and many provide vital support to their local communities.

"These awards give Scotland a chance to recognise the resilience, innovation and contribution that rurally-based people and businesses make to its success."